JUST LIKE some marriages, it didn't last very long.
And it didn't have much of a honeymoon period, either.
I'm referring to that Chicago billboard that gained international attention with its jarring advertisement, "Life's short. Get a divorce."
If that crass caption weren't enough to, literally, stop traffic, photos of two barely clothed models - a busty female in thigh-highs with boobs bursting from a black bra and a male with highly sculpted, six-pack abs - were stragetically affixed on either side of the slogan, a pitch for a local law firm.
There was nothing subliminal about this message. It all but shouted out to anyone who looked up: If your spouse doesn't measure up, it's time to trade up, preferrably to a mate whose proportions match those of either of the people in photographs.
In other words, it all comes down to sex. If you don't like the looks of the spouse sleeping next to you, then dial the two lawyers - two women whose phone number also was posted on the sign.
Oh, and get this: The billboard was on display in an area known as Viagra Triangle because of its singles bars.
The sign would have been easy to laugh off, if only it hadn't hit a little too close to a whole lot of bedrooms, in terms of the disposable way some spouses treat marriage these days.
"That sign represents everything bad about divorce," Rick Tivers, a clinical social worker at the Illinois-based Center for Divorce Recovery, told me yesterday.
"It's really disgusting," he said. "Some of the attorneys we work with mirror what that sign does. A lot of divorce attorneys are part of the problem - they've got a mindset that's 'Get a divorce. Get through stuff, and it's not a big deal.' It's a huge deal. It impacts everybody."
Not surprisingly, the billboard proved way too in-your-face for many Chicagoans who protested loudly. Yesterday, city officials removed the offending advertisement because it had no permit. That was the right thing to do considering the current culture of divorce.
By that I mean the tendency - and, yes, I think the media contributes to the problem - to glamorize the merry-go-round marriages of Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise and Britney Spears, who seem to have the idea that when love sours, you fix it by moving on to the next person.
"I hear young kids in their 20s who are getting married thinking, 'This is my first marriage. We'll see what happens,' " Tivers said. "It's a status thing for certain people right now. 'Well, it's time for our divorce. This is the next thing.' "
Admittedly, splitting up may not be such a huge deal if kids aren't involved. But when they are, they typically wind up suffering the most. Statistics show that children of divorced parents are twice as likely to wind up divorcing also.
As for the billboard in Chicago, free speech may be one thing, but the public should have some say about what's stuck in their faces every day.
You'd only hope that if anyone had a message to share with couples in crisis, particularly those with children, it would be to consider marital counseling - not moving on to the next hot body. *
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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